Faculty and Staff

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We are healthcare consumers, caregivers, and survivors. We are teachers and learners.

We are healthcare providers, lawyers, social workers, researchers, and policy shapers.

We are collaborators and problem-solvers. We are advocates.

To contact a specific staff person, call (608) 265-6267 or email us at info@patientpartnerships.org.

Meg Gaines. Photo by Amber Arnold

Martha “Meg” Gaines, J.D., LLM

Director / Clinical Professor

Martha “Meg” Gaines, founder and director of the Center, was called to advocacy work after her own experience with illness. In 1994, Meg was diagnosed with ovarian cancer which ultimately spread to her liver. In early 1995, a doctor told her to “go home and think about the quality, not the quantity” of her remaining days. Her children were toddlers at the time. But Meg did not go home and die. She went on an odyssey around the United States and found the surgeon who would save her life.

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Once she was in remission, Meg returned to her job at the law school and, in 1998, was named Assistant Dean for Student and Academic Affairs. But Meg soon felt called to a new career. Mindful of the role her education and resources played in her survival, Meg decided to commit her professional energies to helping other patients facing life threatening and serious chronic illnesses get the care they need. In September 2000, she and several colleagues founded the Center.

Meg received her undergraduate degree in religion from Vassar College in 1977 and graduated cum laude from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1983. Following her graduation, she served as a law clerk in Arizona and as a trial attorney for the Milwaukee office of the State Public Defender. In 1987, she returned to the Remington Center at the University of Wisconsin Law School to teach. She earned her post-graduate Master of Laws degree in 1993 from the University of Wisconsin.

Sarah Davis, J.D., MPA

Associate Director / Clinical Asst. Professor

As Center Associate Director, Sarah Davis is currently collaborating with our new Directors of National Initiatives and Educational Development on our exciting emerging endeavors in e-learning, professional field-building, and activities related enhancing the capacity of patients to influence state and federal health policy, and the responsiveness of the health care system to consumers’ experiences.

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Sarah co-teaches Center courses and in Integrative Cases at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. She serves as principal investigator/preceptor for MPH and medical students engaged in research projects at the Center. Sarah provides significant leadership to curriculum development at the Center – including formation of our Certificate programs, new course development (recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars Course Development Grant), and currently the JD-MPH joint degree program. She also serves as a consultant to health care organizations who are engaging health care consumers in health systems improvement efforts.

Sarah served as the chair of UW’s Interprofessional Health Committee from 2008-10 and currently represents the Center on the SaveBadgerCare and Covering Kids and Families coalitions. Publications include: “Educating for Health Advocacy in Settings of Higher Education” in Patient Advocacy for Health Care Quality: Strategies for Achieving Patient-Centered Care, Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Inc. (with Meg and Rachel) and “Ten Strategies to Build Partnerships With Patients,” Wisconsin Medical Journal (with Meg and former colleague Mary Michaud).

Sarah graduated cum laude from the University of Wisconsin Law School. Concurrently, she obtained a master’s degree from the La Follette School of Public Affairs, during which she staffed the Dane County/Madison Joint Public Health Advisory Committee, working towards the unification of the county and city public health departments.

Rachel Grob, M.A., Ph.D.

Director of National Initiatives / Associate Clinical Professor

Rachel Grob, M.A., Ph.D.,  is Director of National Initiatives and Associate Clinical Professor at the Center for Patient Partnerships. She is also Senior Scientist in the School of Medicine and Public Health’s Department of Family Medicine and Community Health.  She is a sociologist whose career, both inside and outside academia, has been devoted to investigating patients’ experiences with health and health care, and to involving them in the discourse, policy processes and institutional arrangements which impact that care. A strong dual commitment to generating knowledge and using that emerging knowledge to create concrete impact for consumers, families and communities is prominent in all her work.

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Rachel’s current projects include (1) Acting as Qualitative Research Lead for the award-winning, internationally-vetted Database of Individual Patient Experience (DIPEx) initiative here in the U.S.; as an elected member of the DIPEx International Board of Trustees guiding patient experience work in 11 countries; and as co-PI developing the USA’s first full web-based patient experience module (on depression in young adults) using these methods. (2) Leading the qualitative arm on two federal grants pioneering methods to reliably elicit patient narratives about their health care encounters as part of large-scale patient experience surveys. (3) Working as co-PI on a mixed-methods research project providing the first nationally representative portrait of patients’ perspectives on “low value” healthcare.

You can download Rachel Grob’s CV here.

Jill Jacklitz, MSSW

Director of Education

Jill serves as the Center’s Director of Education, leading our educational program-building, curriculum development, and course offerings. Jill’s approach is informed by direct experiences advocating, through legislative and organizational change, for patients facing barriers to health care access.

Jill’s path to the Center includes professional and personal experiences in patient and systems advocacy, non-profit management and teaching. After receiving a Master’s degree in Social Work from UW-Madison, Jill worked in child advocacy at the Wisconsin Council for Children and Families for thirteen years, lobbying, coordinating community engagement and educational programs and serving as the organization’s Deputy Director. As executive director of a local non-profit focused on urban agriculture and community gardening, Jill raised awareness of the local food movement and saw first-hand its power to impact health. This experience led her to work in the community health field. As manager of community programs for a local health care cooperative, Jill advocated for health equity and supported patients navigating the health care system. Her work focused particularly on access to healthcare for those facing barriers including linguistic isolation, lack of insurance and poverty.

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Throughout her career Jill has taught graduate courses in social policy, community engagement and methods of social work practice at the UW-Madison School of Social Work and supervised dozens of students in field education placements.

Growing up, Jill was introduced to advocacy by her mother who demonstrated a powerful example fighting for the rights of people with developmental disabilities. A half century ago Ohio did not provide the opportunities for her son to live a healthy and productive life in his community so Jill’s mother started community-based programs and fought for legislative change.

Currently, Jill serves as vice-chair of the board of directors of REAP Food Group, a non-profit organization that develops links between local growers and eaters. She also serves on the board of the Farley Center, advising the their farm incubator programming for beginning farmers. In her spare time Jill enjoys gardening, pottery and baking fancy cakes—basically anything that lets her get her hands dirty. She lives in Madison with her partner, two teenage children and their two dogs, two rabbits, three chickens and a lizard.

Stephanie Johnson

Advocacy Coordinator

Stephanie serves as the Center’s Advocacy Coordinator, a role focused on coordinating the Advocacy Clinic, managing the advocacy services and supervising professional and graduate students. Stephanie brings to her position over 20 years in the healthcare field, as a medical social worker and community relations coordinator for a local hospital.

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Stephanie’s professional and personal journey includes experience in patient advocacy, partnership development, relationship building, and working to decrease health disparities. She received her Master’s degree in Social Work from UW-Madison and practiced as a medical social worker at UW Hospital and Clinics and St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, WI. While at St. Mary’s Hospital, she supervised social work graduate students. And, co-created the Family Care Conference protocol for use in adult intensive care units; chaired the hospital wide, interdisciplinary Patient Care Council; and served as the staff liaison to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Family Care Council. Stephanie transitioned to the Community Relations Coordinator role at St. Mary’s Hospital and led the hospital’s first Community Health Needs Assessment, created an Adopt-a-School partnership with a local elementary school, and launched the Stork’s Nest program (a prenatal education program for low-income women). Most recently, Stephanie served as a Community Coach for the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program. She provided community leaders and teams from across the nation with tools, resources, and coaching to support community health improvement efforts at the local level.

Stephanie was introduced to advocacy not only through her professional social work practice, but through a personal family experience when her sister required a kidney transplant.
Stephanie lives in Madison with her husband and dog. In her spare time, she loves traveling, biking, golfing, spending time with family and dreams of retiring in the Italian countryside.

Kelly Douglas

Development Director

Kelly is the Center’s first Development Director, a role dedicated to raising funds to support and advance the ground-breaking work at the Center. A dual aspect of her position is communicating the purpose and advancements of the Center and the patient advocacy field to our supporters and stakeholders.

With a background in non-profit management, including fundraising and business development, Kelly brings the experience and energy needed to help propel our mission forward. The path to the Center has been carved out not only through her experience with an advocacy based, empowerment focused agency and a welcome reconnection to the university where she received her undergrad degree, but also through her own personal struggle with a diagnosis of malignant melanoma at the age of 20. While this path took various curves and detours, Kelly is thankful that these various elements of her experience lead her to the Center.

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Kelly received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a certificate in Women’s Studies. Supporting women’s health and well being has been a central focus of her work, as well as creating access for under-served populations to necessary resources. Kelly also volunteers on the Fundraising Committee for Hillside Health Care International, a small clinic that provides essential medical care, disease prevention, community outreach and health education to the people of Southern Belize, as well as offering global health education for medical students.

Kay Barrett, M.D.

Medical Consultant

Kay is a retired cardiologist who joined the Center to assist help students understand the nature and course of their client’s medical conditions, frame decisions, understand navigation of our chaotic medical system, and explore clinical trials.

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After completing a BA in Germanic studies at the University of Michigan, Kay completed medical school there, an internal medicine residency at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, and a fellowship in cardiology, also at U of M. She came to Madison to join East Madison Clinic (now Dean East). After a career as an interventional cardiologist, she came to the Center as a student wanting to continue assisting patients. The opportunity join the Center and to help guide students as they explore patient advocacy is a new and exciting opportunity.

Lane Hanson, MSW

Child Advocacy Project Coordinator

Lane Hanson is the Child Advocacy Project Coordinator for the Center. This role includes coordinating the resource navigation project under the ACTIVATE initiative. With a background in social work and education policy, Lane’s work is informed through a social justice lens. Lane developed the desire to enact change within healthcare systems, in order to empower patients and their families, as a result of personal and professional experiences within these systems. Informed by the social work perspective, Lane applies a strengths-based approach in addressing social determinants of health, recognizing the importance of developing resiliency and emphasizing protective factors.

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Lane graduated from UW-Madison with a bachelor’s degree in political science, a Master’s degree in Social Work and is currently pursuing a PhD in Education Leadership and Policy Analysis. Lane has previous work experience in health care and in nonprofit administration. Lane has assisted teaching courses in the Social Work program at UW-Madison and has worked on various research projects regarding education disparities for youth from traditionally marginalized populations and connections to health outcomes. Most recently this involved a research project with the local nonprofit organization, GSAFE, gathering data regarding the school experiences of transgender and gender nonconforming youth in Wisconsin and assisting in the development of education policy design in order to better support these students.

Pete Daly

Advocacy Faculty

Pete Daly advocates for patients at the center through his direct experience as a cancer patient and continuing client of the center. In September 2002 he faced Stage III Melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. Through the help of the center, he built his medical and support teams, entered a long lasting clinical trial at the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute (NIH/NCI), and learned to proactively address his health care. Not long after his diagnosis and receiving “as his life depended upon it” direction from Director Meg Gaines, Pete began working at the Center by directly assisting other patients and supervising professional degree students.

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In his cancer journey, Pete has faced multiple recurrences, each time leaning upon his local medical team at the University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center, the clinical researchers at NIH/NCI, and the support of the center, friends and family. Pete and his wife, Nancy, have two children, Sam and Mary, and family is central to his wellbeing. Prior to his involvement with the center, Pete worked for 28 years as manager of a local private engineering practice and as a consultant.

Cindi Gatton

Advocacy Faculty

Cindi Gatton supports clinical and advanced clinical students as a clinical supervisor. Learning firsthand the importance of patient advocacy and system navigation during her only brother’s life limiting illness, she completed the CPP Professional Certificate program in 2013, and launched a private patient advocacy practice serving individuals and employers in Georgia (www.georgiapatientadvocate.com).

After completing her B.S. in education at the University of Virginia, and her M.A. in speech and language pathology at The George Washington University, she practiced as a speech/language pathologist for 5 years before migrating to the business side of healthcare. She worked for both healthcare start ups as well as Fortune 250 organizations in a sales and account management career that spanned more than 25 years.

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Cindi has embraced and is passionate about distance education. Residing in Atlanta, she is the proud mother of two “launched” sons, and an avid gardener and hiker. 

Robin Conkey

Program Administrator

Robin began her career working in health care administration for a large medical group and soon found herself advocating for a family member with a severe illness. This experience led to a role within a public interest law firm specializing in advocacy for children with special health care needs. Robin is pleased to return to the university campus where she originally completed her undergraduate degree. She is involved in many of the Center’s activities that support students dedicated to becoming skilled, empathetic patient advocates.

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Cecie Culp

Associate Research Specialist

Cecie joined the CPP as a research specialist after graduating from the LaFollette School of Public Affairs here at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She graduated from Skidmore College with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience and worked in a research lab at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus before coming to Wisconsin for graduate school. She hopes that her background in biomedical sciences research and public policy will help bring a unique perspective to the CPP’s many exciting research initiatives.

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Christopher Yue

Student Services and Technology Coordinator

Christopher provides student services and academic technology support to all CPP staff and students. He is a graduate of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (ELPA) program in the School of Education. He graduated from UW-Madison with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Communication Arts. He worked in marketing and public relations before returning to Madison for graduate school with a focus on Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration.

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Peter Heal

Office Assistant

Peter is currently a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison pursuing a double major in legal studies and risk management/insurance. He stays active on campus through student organizations such as the Risk Management and Insurance Society and the Legal Studies Association. In addition, he has been volunteering with the National MS Society for 8 years. He is a lifelong Wisconsinite who enjoys long bike rides, playing basketball, and cheering on the Badgers at the Kohl Center and Camp Randall. He hopes to work in the insurance sector upon graduating and return to school to pursue a law degree and become a corporate lawyer.

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